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Saturday September 20, 2014
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The Macpodz

 

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the first time. Jesse Clayton's keyboard array is loaded with vintage instruments of the era, and there's a lot of Miles Davis's jazz-rock fusion in the music. In fact, with those big dance beats, the Macpodz seem to be trying to pick up where Davis left off when death cut short his attempt to reconnect jazz with popular dance music.

But this is not a retro act or a group of fusion revivalists. I went to hear the Macpodz again at the Neutral Zone, where the young people dancing and crowding the stage were more than a decade away from being born when some of these sounds came around for the first time. The high energy level, the driving quality of the music is of today, not of the cosmic-quest 1970s, and the strong following the Macpodz have among local kids makes a good reason to check them out all by itself.

Surprises keep on coming in a Macpodz show, and no two pieces are alike. Trumpeter Ross Walker blows a blast on a giant seashell, and the celebratory mood of the crowd gets deeper as the evening turns into morning. The music of the Macpodz has the feeling of something limitless, as jazz ought to when it's good. And there are very few places other than Ann Arbor, with its strong tradition of jazz playing among young people, where the band could have arisen. Something uncommon and valuable is happening here.

The Macpodz are at TC's Speakeasy on Saturday, February 3; at the Blind Pig on Friday, February 9; and at a benefit for the Behnke family at the Pittsfield Grange on Friday, February 16.

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